U + I welcomes the Mayor’s consultation on Homes for Londoners - increasing the delivery of both market and affordable housing is vital.
But, as we outline in our response, this alone is not enough. As a major deliverer of complex mixed-use developments, we understand how increased housing has to go hand-in-hand with job creation and supporting heritage assets.
We have pulled together our response, to offer some thoughts based our experience addressing some of the key matters essential for practical and successful outcomes.
Our response is largely aimed at trying to encourage greater thought about wider social value alongside the provision of housing – focusing on three areas specifically:
Greater clarity is needed on the proposed benchmark land value. For example, how should the value of land be determined if it is owned by, say, Transport for London or an NHS Trust and is going to be used to deliver transport or health care? How does that compare to public land that is going to be used for social housing?
The Mayor’s desire to build up affordable housing delivery is welcome. But they need to be balanced with considerations around schemes that deliver other very substantial public benefits, other than for affordable housing. This particularly includes buildings that should be retained in the public sector that deliver major public benefit, such as libraries, leisure facilities or fire stations.
We believe that there should be a recognition that such clear public benefits are just as valid as affordable housing and could be allowed to take precedence over housing.
The opportunity to use a threshold approach is welcomed, using an agreed rate for affordable provision. However, we believe that this should perhaps vary between brownfield and greenfield sites and we have detailed in our response what some of the practical limitations would be otherwise.
Here at U+I, we welcome the Mayor’s willingness to shake things up to deliver what the city needs – and we look forward to continuing to work with both the GLA and London Boroughs to deliver both market and affordable housing, as well as new jobs, services and vibrant public realms.